Focus Independent School is the place where I grew up. My FIS friends, teachers, and staff members were there through it all—the joyous moments, the embarrassing moments, the sad,  the fun, and the transformative. Perhaps, that is why I always feel a sense of camaraderie whenever I see them again now. There are many things that the FIS community has given me over the years but there are two that I want to highlight: the courage to stand up and speak in front of an audience and a place to self-express creatively. We were never discouraged from speaking up—our teachers always made a point of listening. We were also given various outlets to create and perform—academically and creatively.
I have carried these things with me, even now as I am studying Communication Design at Emily Carr University. Doing design means you have to be ready to present your work and creative process to your peers, instructors, audience, or even clients. It also means collaboration. I am currently working as a research assistant at ECU’s Health Design Lab. As a part of their Culture of Care team, we are working to shift the culture of care in long-term care homes from an institutional to a person-directed social model of care. We are doing this through a variety of co-design activities which requires us, the researchers, to design creative activities where people can share their voices and to actually listen to those voices. Currently, we are developing a game with people living in long-term care homes that aims to build relationships and conversations in said care homes.

Studying design and being a part of the Culture of Care project has been two of the most fulfilling things in my life as of yet. I would not have come this far if I was not encouraged to think creatively, to speak up, and to listen by the FIS community—and I will always be grateful for that.